So here you are. At the beginning of 2020, you decided to file for divorce from your spouse. It had been a long time coming, and now was the time to move forward with your case. You spoke to friends, family, and attorneys about whether or not it was the right time, and something deep inside you said it was time to take the plunge and get the divorce started. This was not an easy decision for you to make; there was one that you did what you could to avoid ever having to come face to face with. However, once you filed the divorce, you finally got some peace about the whole situation.
Then, out of the blue, a global pandemic hits our area and knocks the wind out of your sails. Instead of getting your spouse served with the paperwork for your divorce, it has been sitting at the courthouse for three months. Instead of moving on with the rest of your life and having the back end of 2020 to prepare for post-divorce life, you set in the middle of 2020 with your divorce not even close to finished. It’s been an actual failure to launch thus far. What you have to be asking yourself at this stage is: what can you do to get the divorce process moving once again?
Considering the emotional difficulties associated with filing a divorce, it was no small step for you to file your case in the 1st place. With kids at home, you wanted to do everything to avoid the divorce and salvage your marriage. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, the union continued to flounder, and ultimately, it was determined that a divorce would be necessary. Thinking that your case would be pretty simple and with money being tight around your household, he made the other decision not to hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce.
Given the impact of the virus on our we have life, you are now second-guessing whether or not this was the right time to move forward with your case. Of course, you had no idea what was about to hit the country in the early spring of 2020, but you’re still not happy, nonetheless. You are frustrated with yourself, with the virus, and don’t necessarily know how to get moving again. The divorce is stuck in the mud, and worse yet, you’re stuck in the house with your ex-spouse. What can you possibly do to move forward with the case that seems to be stuck in neutral?
That is what I would like to discuss with you all today. Sometimes, when you feel you have nowhere to turn in, you’re not making any progress, but you need to take dramatic steps to get things moving. An analogy I use with clients is when loggers are floating big logs down a river, and they get stuck; what the loggers tend to do is sticks of dynamite in the River and blow up whatever is impeding the path of the logs. That is what I am recommending that you do with your case. Find out whatever it is you need to do to get things moving and do it.
Bite the bullet and hire an attorney
Earlier this year, you may have believed that no attorney would be necessary for you and your spouse to get a divorce. After all, you have no children and own very little property. Neither of you has any debts, and all you need to do is to get the title changed to your vehicle so that you are the owner and for the same to be done on your spouse’s vehicle; otherwise, there is nothing really to discuss as far as property or debts are concerned. You all could sell the house and split the equity, and go your separate ways. Sounds pretty easy, am I right?
Well, as fate would have it, nothing would come easy to any person in the year 2020. What may have been an opportunity for you to get your divorce taken care of without needing to hire an attorney flew right past you. Right about the time that you were getting cabin fever from staying home so much, it may have hit you like a ton of bricks that you were going to need to hire a family law attorney to represent you in this divorce. If your divorce case is stuck in the mud and not going anywhere, then hiring an attorney is the most sensical way to get your claim on the move.
Let’s talk about why you didn’t want to hire an attorney in the first place. Your initial thought was that since your divorce would be straightforward and you and your spouse generally can talk through important issues, an attorney would not be necessary. You all could discuss the issues and negotiate a settlement independently without ever having to employ a lawyer. At that point, all it would take would be for either you or your spouse to take your agreements and insert them into a final decree of divorce. A basic understanding of how to use a word processor and finding form last degrees of divorce online meant that the only real effort needed is to sit down and take your agreement and get it into a format a judge would sign.
This could have been a great idea had the pandemic never hit. However, now that we are ankle-deep in this pandemic, we need to be able to figure out why an attorney would be helpful to you. The real question that I would ask you to ask yourself would be how is your divorce going since you do not have an attorney? If you can honestly tell me that your divorce is going just fine in that you don’t think a lawyer would have made a difference in the process, then you should probably continue not having an attorney. However, if you’re not satisfied with your cases and believe drastic action needs to be taken, hiring an attorney is the best place to start.
Contrary to popular belief, a lawyer is not there to stir up trouble or cause controversy with you and your spouse. Quite the opposite, you can think of an attorney as your legal sherpa guiding you up and down the mountain of divorce. I do not doubt that you are plenty smart enough to get a divorce if you set your mind to it. However, time, resources, your work, your family, and yes, even global pandemics get in the way of your best-laid plans. If this sounds familiar to you, it may be time to bite the bullet and hire an attorney.
An attorney can do for you to identify those areas of your case where action needs to be taken so that progress can be made. For example, at the beginning of today’s blog post, we mentioned that if your divorce has been filed, but no steps have been taken after that, some very straightforward measures can be taken to get your case moving. An attorney would immediately identify your case in the divorce process and take the most logical steps to get the point in motion. If your claim has been filed, but no other measures have been taken, the documentation at the courthouse would need to be reviewed once again and then served upon your spouse. A divorce cannot begin, honestly, until your spouse files an answer to your original petition for divorce.
On the other hand, let’s assume that your divorce is further down the road to completion. When the pandemic hit you, and your spouse was in the process of negotiating a custody agreement for your children and a division of your community estate. This much is pretty straightforward and is a crucial component of most divorces. However, what made your divorce unique circumstance you said you have many children And quite a bit of property that needs to be divided. Despite your best efforts, neither of you could figure out how to equitably divide time with your children and the community estate.
This is where having an attorney can be a great help to you. An experienced family law attorney can help you too cut to the most critical parts of your case and help you negotiate creative settlements with your spouse. Keep in mind that even if you and your spouse are on excellent terms, your attorney will be representing only your interests in court. However, what’s your attorney can also offer is an objective representative. This means that your attorney isn’t caught in the emotion of your divorce and is better able to think clearly about the basic tenants of your case than you may be.
Before you shouted at her laptop, I’ll tell you that I already know that hiring an attorney cost money. Yes, you may have had your hours reduced due to the pandemic or even lost your job. However, in response to either of those circumstances, I would say that hiring an attorney is a short-term investment that can offer you a lot of long-term gains. Suppose money is the reason you are not hiring an attorney. In that case, you should seek out a lawyer who is not only in your price range but who can offer you payment plans or other flexible payment schedules so that you do not run into difficulties as far as your budget is concerned.
Schedule mediation to get your divorce moving and to put the finishing touches on your case
the other piece of advice that I wanted to give to you today concerning getting a divorce moving after being stuck in neutral is to consider going before a family law mediator to help you settle in to negotiate on the final sticking points of your divorce. This is a constructive step if both you and your spouse have hired attorneys. Allow your attorneys to guide you in selecting the right mediator to hear your case and then go to mediation more than once if necessary. Many family law mediators are offering virtual mediations where you can attend from your home or office.
Family courts often order parties to attend mediation Because the results from mediation Are usually favorable. A vast majority of family law cases in Texas settle before trial due in no small part to the role that mediation plays. If you have some issues causing your divorce to bog down at the very end, do not use the pandemic as an excuse for why your case is not completed yet. Instead, use this as an opportunity to schedule mediation and rely on your creativity comma that of your spouse and the assistance and experienced a family law mediator to help you get your case across the finish line. When it comes to taking the steps necessary to complete a divorce, most of the time, you will find that it is the first couple of actions that are the most difficult to handle.
Questions about the material presented in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material presented in today’s blog post, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, by phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way to learn more about Texas family law issues and ask questions about our law practice. Our office will be honored to speak with you about how we are best suited to advocate for you and your family.